Why isn’t child care affordable for all Canadians yet?
For nearly five decades, no politician outside of Quebec has comprehensively addressed the matter
Written by Mab Oloman
Published in THIS Magazine, November 3, 2016
Mab Oloman’s interest in child care emerged when she became a parent in 1976. Mab thought it would all be fixed by the time she became a granny, but today the child care crisis is even more desperate.
As I sat down to write this, I found myself thinking about the many aspects of child care that matter to me—from my abhorrence of the trend to “schoolify” very young children to my deep belief that child care should be an affordable not-for-profit publicly supported service. But my overall frustration is that for nearly five decades, politicians of all stripes have used child care to gain political points during both federal and provincial election campaigns but so far none of our governments, except Quebec, have been brave enough to comprehensively address the matter.
Since 1970, when the Royal Commission on the Status of Women proposed a national day-care act, it has been a two-steps-forward, one-step-back dance. On International Women’s Day in 1986 Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government released the “Report of the Task Force on Child Care.” That report, initiated by the previous Liberal government, called for “a universal system of child care, co-funded by federal and provincial governments.” It recommended a system of nonprofit services, designed and managed by the provinces, guided by national standards. The system would be affordable and enhanced through a gradual increase in supply until 2001 when it would serve all children
Les Leyne: Universality sticking point for child care
Ten bucks a day for child care is an enormously appealing proposition for thousands of B.C. families now paying 10 times that or more for it.
But making it available to the wealthy as well as low-income earners might be one of the sticking points for the major election campaign statement NDP Leader John Horgan made last week.
He served notice the Opposition will be campaigning for a $10-a-day child-care program that is universally available. It’s the most definitive position yet on a topic that the NDP has taken varying positions on over the years. In fact, it’s the most definitive statement Horgan has made as leader in terms of what the party will be advancing as the election campaign begins to take shape.
The idea goes back to a concept that was just taking shape in the final days of the last NDP government, in 2001. Former premier Ujjal Dosanjh pitched a $14-a-day program that would have more than doubled the existing subsidy budget, to $400 million a year, with a federal contribution folded in. It didn’t swing the subsequent election results. The NDP were routed. The B.C. Liberals cancelled the plan in short order, keying on the waste of money represented by universality.
Horgan said last week the 15 years of Liberal government since then have created a child-care crisis. Parents are paying some of the highest fees in the country and child care is the second-highest cost to families, after housing. Apart from the obvious popularity in the young-families demographic, he cited the economic impact as another selling point.
“Lack of affordable quality child care prevents parents from participating in the labour force.” Various studies cite the high costs as a drag on the economy.
MLA Report: B.C. child care costs must be more affordable
Anyone who has raised children knows it is very challenging. The first five years before kindergarten are especially demanding for parents as they try to give kids the full-time high-quality care they need while at the same time earn the money the family requires to get by. If you are a single parent or don’t have a lot of resources or family support this can become an almost impossible workload.
It is well accepted that strategic government investment in young children creates a lifetime of benefits not just for those children but also for the society and economy as a whole. Making sure children get a good start in life benefits us all.
Regrettably Premier Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberal government have a long history of failing children who need help. This painful fact is evident when it comes to affordable child care in B.C.
You don’t need to take my word for it. Even the B.C. Chamber of Commerce has called out the B.C. Liberal government on this issue, noting that child care costs in B.C. continue to increase year after year while the availability of the needed services is decreasing. In their 2016/2017 Policy and Position Manual, the chamber makes an economic argument: the government should invest in child care because the economy as a whole benefits with more people in the workforce. First Call, a child and youth advocacy coalition, estimates that every public dollar invested in child care generates a return of $2.54 to our economy and that investing in the child care sector has a bigger job multiplier effect than in any other sector.
NDP vows to raise taxes on the rich to pay for $10-a-day childcare if elected
John Horgan's childcare promise suggests B.C. NDP is more eager to court progressive vote
In recent provincial elections, traditional B.C. NDP supporters have sometimes chafed over the party's conservatism.
In 2001, then leader Ujjal Dosanjh centred his campaign around a balanced budget and sound fiscal management. He was slaughtered.
In 2005, the opposition party focused again on balancing the books rather than investing in public transit. Then leader Carole James revived the party, but didn't form the government.
In 2009, the B.C. NDP ran a high-profile campaign against the carbon tax, which had been welcomed by many environmentalists. Another loss.
Then in 2013, then leader Adrian Dix refused to support a $10-per-day childcare program, upsetting some members of the party's base. Other social activists condemned the party platform for failing to address the affordable-housing crisis. Chalk up another B.C. NDP defeat.
Well, guess what? It's starting to appear as though Dix's successor, John Horgan, isn't going to be nearly as cautious in next year's provincial election campaign.
This week, the B.C. NDP leader endorsed a $10-per-day childcare program, which has been advocated by many municipalities, labour organizations, academics, and nonprofit groups across the province.
“After housing, child care is the second-highest cost facing B.C. families," Horgan said in a B.C. NDP news release. "Parents here are paying some of the highest child care fees in the country. Too many parents can’t find child care and spend years on waitlists."
The B.C. NDP announcement has been welcomed by former Vancouver school trustee Sharon Gregson, a tireless advocate for better childcare.
B.C. NDP promises child care for $10 a day
NDP leader John Horgan called the lack of affordable childcare in the province a crisis
CBC News Posted: Oct 20, 2016 9:38 AM PT
B.C.'s NDP is promising a $10-a-day child-care program if they win the upcoming provincial election in May.
Leader John Horgan said the program would counteract years of under-funding by the B.C. Liberals.
"We can liberate women largely to participate fully in the economy and we can ensure employers that productivity is going to go up because there is a less concern about the patchwork child care that most families have to weave together," he said.
Horgan pointed out wait lists are reaching dire lengths, noting in Vancouver some daycares already have up to 3,000 children on their wait list.
"When people say they can't afford to have children, I think that's something we should act upon," he said.
A 2015 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives study said B.C. businesses were losing as much as $600 million per year because parents were forced to abandon paid work because of a lack of affordable childcare.
Scott Cunningham, Reporter
B.C. New Democrat Leader John Horgan has pledged to address the province's lack of affordable child care if his party is elected next spring.
Horgan is promising a $10-per-day universal child care program for B.C. to correct what he says is a provincial crisis.
“Women are not getting back into the workforce after they have children because they can’t find a place for their children to be cared for,” Horgan said while speaking at a Vancouver daycare Wednesday. “It’s an impact on the economy, it’s an impact on families and quality of life, and we need to do something about that.”
By John Horgan in The South Asian Link, October 22, 2016
Leader, B.C. New Democrats
VICTORIA—You shouldn’t have to win the lottery to raise a child in British Columbia. But every year, quality, accessible child care gets closer to becoming an option for only the rich and the lucky.
Christy Clark thinks that’s acceptable. I disagree. That’s why this week I announced that a New Democrat government will invest in affordable, universal child care and work towards a $10-a-day child care program. For years, parents in this province have struggled to find quality child care that they can afford, and called for change from Christy Clark. Instead, the premier stood by while child care became exclusive, expensive and inaccessible.
Today, we’re facing a child care crisis. Christy Clark just wants to look the other way. I don’t. I know we need to do the right thing and act today – for our kids, for our families, and for our economy.
If you’re a parent in this province, chances are you’re already struggling with the affordability crisis that’s devastating family budgets, and forcing families out of regions like Metro Vancouver.
And if you’re a parent with a child in child care, chances are you pay more for that one bill than for any other expense, with the exception of housing costs.
NDP leader John Horgan proposes $10-a-day childcare if electedRead more
B.C.'s child-care squeeze 'so much more stressful than it has ever been'
Ironically, the 38-year-old single mom is employed in early childhood learning, spending her days taking care of other people’s kids until she can pick up her own — an eight-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter — in after-school care at 5:30 p.m.